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A Rainy Encounter
An old man traveled down the rainy, busy street. Unlike most people there, his clothes were made of real fabric, not plastic. It had been a pain in the neck to find, but he felt it was worth it. Stranger still, he went on his own two feet, not an electric hover board.
He didn't run, but walked with an urgency that was uncommon in this age of constant computer contact. He zig-zagged along the road, upsetting traffic, and asked the same questions over and over.
"Do you hate our Nation? Do you believe in magic?"
He was almost never allowed to get to the second question, because the person he was asking would always shriek at the idea and dart away, start yelling in his face, or simply come at him with fists raised. The very idea, to them, of disliking, let alone hating, the Nation was entirely unthinkable. The man avoided all attacks, and simply walked on with a stern, worried expression.
He had been repeating those questions for hours now. His heart began to sink. Would he ever find anyone suitable? But then he saw a young boy, no older than five, nibbling quietly on a dried slab of Slips. He looked starved and cold. This was not unusual; hundreds of beggar boys lined this highway alone. This child's small eyes, however, were not focused on his scavenged food, or guarding his plastic cup with perhaps a coin or two in it. Instead, he watched each person as they flew by, seeming to be calculating, thinking. The boy's eyes connected with the old man's gaze, and they both knew something important was about to happen.
The man crossed the street and stood before the child. The young boy stared defiantly up at him. If he was scared, he didn't show it.
Heart pounding, the man asked his first question.
"Do you hate our Nation?"
The tiny, starved boy looked around, seeming to consider. Finally he answered simply,
The man could have jumped for joy. Lips curling into a smile, he asked the second question.
"Do you believe in magic?"
This time, the boy did not need to think. He grinned, revealing tiny, surprisingly white teeth and replied,
The man sighed in relief.
"Take this, child."
He held out an amulet, taken from his back pocket. It was a silver disk on a gold chain, engraved with a language long forgotten. If the child accepted it, the man's life's work would be complete.
The kid did not drop his Slips, or hold out a hand.
"What is it?"
This kid was smart. He knew not to trust strangers.
"It is your destiny."
The boy raised a critical eyebrow and looked the man over for a good ten seconds. Finally, without a word, he put out his right hand, palm up.
Smiling, the man lowered the amulet onto his outstretched hand.
The boy watched in fascination as the the silver disk wiggled down his hand and then stopped on his wrist. After a moments pause, it slowly sunk into his skin, like a leaf in thick mud. Soon it seemed that the boy had a detailed, shiny tattoo on his wrist. The gold chain reached up and wrapped around his hand, and soon he had an irremovable bracelet. The process didn't hurt, but it did send happy shivers down his spine. He wiggled his wrist around, entertained by the jingling sound it made.
Remembering his manners, he looked up to thank the man. But he was gone. All that was to be seen was dozens of people on their hover boards, logged into computers attached to their irises.
The boy nodded to himself. In his mothers old stories, mysterious characters never stuck around, so why should this event be any different? He pulled up his sleeve to hide his new treasure, for he knew that if anyone saw it, they would do their best to snatch it, and that would only lead to trouble. Then he raised the stale Slips to his mouth, and quietly, simply, he returned to watching the wet streets.